Stanford MacBook heist: From Apple to Craigslist to prison

From Alyssa Lukpat's "Siblings Sent to Prison in Laptop Theft Scheme That Cost Stanford Millions" in Thursday's New York Times:

A former Stanford University employee and her brother were sentenced to federal prison terms this week for their roles in a scheme in which hundreds of laptop computers were ordered on behalf of the university but sold for private gain — thefts that cost the institution millions of dollars over several years.

The woman, Patricia Castaneda, 38, who worked at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Sacramento to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $4 million in restitution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California said in a statement on Monday.

Her brother Eric Castaneda, 37, who helped sell hundreds of the laptops, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $2.3 million in restitution.

Starting in 2009 or 2010, Ms. Castaneda used her position to buy new Apple MacBook laptops that she claimed were for faculty and staff members, according to a plea agreement filed last month...

In fact, prosecutors said, she sold the laptops for cash after they were delivered to Stanford. Until 2016, they said, she sold them to a person she met on Craigslist. Later, she began giving them to her brother to sell, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

My take: Fencing stolen MacBooks on Craigslist works until it doesn't.

7 Comments

  1. Horace Dediu said:
    Like fencing stolen non-public information from Apple and suppliers. Piece of cake until it isn’t.

    3
    April 21, 2022
  2. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    Crime pays. Until it doesn’t.
    Only The Shadow knows.

    3
    April 21, 2022
  3. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. Starting in 2009 or 2010, ….”.

    A common trait among thieves leading to their eventual capture seems to be “greed.” They just can’t seem to stop with a respectable heist. They just keep going and going and going like the Duracell battery; until they run out of luck.

    2
    April 21, 2022
  4. Rick Povich said:
    Hundreds of laptops – millions of dolllars?

    Must have been some nice configurations. Although, I guess if they sold 999 MacBooks (“hundreds”) configured to come out at $2002 each they”d achieve a $2 million total (“millions”). Unless I’m wrong.

    2
    April 21, 2022
    • John Konopka said:
      Good catch. Maybe it was many tens of hundreds.

      2
      April 21, 2022
  5. Daniel Epstein said:
    And somehow Stanford didn’t notice until it became big enough! Who is running the audit department? Or maybe they use the honor system?

    3
    April 21, 2022
  6. Michael Goldfeder said:
    OTOH, any reason those companies that produce and sell the “Wintel” PC alternatives are not complaining about why their products are shunned and not targeted by the criminal element? Are they not worthy of stealing and going to prison? Can anyone find an actual add for a Microsoft Surface on Craigslist?

    4
    April 21, 2022

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